Indian First Generation Immigrants

(All digital objects on this page are held by Minnesota Historical Society at their repository at the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul)

(Late) M.J. Abhishaker


BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION: (Late) M. J. Abhishaker was born in India. He attended college in India and in Minnesota. Presently, he is a professor. 

SUBJECTS DISCUSSED: Family background, family values, education, college experiences, differences between American and Indian university structures, work experiences, political activities. Leaving India.


DATE OF INTERVIEW  : Jan 4, 1995


(Late) Indru S. Advani


BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION: (Late) Indru Advani was born in a part of India which is now in Pakistan. He attended school and college in India. He did graduate work in Minnesota. Presently, he is retired. 

SUBJECTS DISCUSSED: Experiences in India before emigrating, experiences in Kenya, marriage and family, caste system in India, travels to India, family visits, memories of arriving in New York City and Minneapolis, religion, Indo-American Association at the University of Minnesota, experiences singing, socializing in the Indian community, work history, retaining and passing on cultural values, maintaining family ties, future plans, American values of home and homestead.


DATE OF INTERVIEW   : Jul 12, 1994


Pennamma Cherucheril


BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION: Pennamma Cherucheril was born in India. As a teenager, she and a sister traveled to Wisconsin to join a relative and to study nursing. 

SUBJECTS DISCUSSED: Background, arriving and adjusting to the United States, education, visiting India, marriage, family values, religion, mixing Western and religious customs, India Club, Malayalee group, North American Knanaya Catholic group, experiences attending Indian cultural events, future plans and aspirations.


DATE OF INTERVIEW   : Jul 22, 1993


Ram Gada


BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION: Ram Gada was born in India where he graduated from college. He also completed a graduate degree in North Dakota and then moved to Minnesota. Presently, he operates his own consulting firm. 

SUBJECTS DISCUSSED: Childhood years; experiences growing up in India; education; arranging to come to school in the U.S; arriving in and adjusting to climate in North Dakota. Marriage; family values; cultural differences; the Gujarati Samaj; religion; vegetarianism, activities of the Jain group in Minneapolis; India Club; School of India for Languages and Culture (SILC); relations within the Indian community; recent political involvement; work history; imparting values to children, mixing Eastern and Western cultural values; plans for children's futures, the growth of Indian community in the Twin Cities; and maintaining family ties to India.


DATE OF INTERVIEW   : Dec 7, 1994


Aparna Ganguli


BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION: Aparna Ganguli was born and grew up in India. She attended school and college in India and received a graduate degree. She immigrated to the United States in the early 1960s. More recently, she received a doctorate in Minnesota and currently teaches at a university. 

SUBJECTS DISCUSSED: Background, experiences in India, childhood, college experiences, marriage, arriving and adjusting to the U.S.-cultural differences. Visits to India. Educational experiences in the U.S., work history. Experiences in the Indian community, School of India for Language and Culture (SILC), Bengali Association. Retaining and passing on cultural values, maintaining family ties.


DATE OF INTERVIEW   : Dec 6, 1994


Mansur Kassim-Lakha


BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION: Mansur Kassim-Lakha was born in Kenya to a family of Indian descent. He attended boarding school and college in England and then moved to Minnesota and finished his undergraduate work. Kassim-Lakha is a businessman. 

SUBJECTS DISCUSSED: Indian immigration to East Africa; boarding school experiences; differences between American and British schools; value of education; marriage and family; early work history; experiences in Nebraska; parenting-instilling values; work with the India Club; other Indian community work, Twin Cities Muslim community; important family and cultural values; the mixing of Eastern and Western values; respect of elders. Visits to England and Kenya; children's education; the value of academics; maintaining family ties back to Africa; the struggle of maintaining long-distance relationships.


DATE OF INTERVIEW    : Jan 14, 1995


(Late) P.C. Mangalick


BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION: (Late) P. C. Mangalick was born in India. He grew up in India and ran his own business there. In the early 1970s, he and his wife came to the United States. In the mid-1980s, he and his wife established a charity hospital in Agra, India. 

SUBJECTS DISCUSSED: His business in India; marriage; the move to the United States; importance of discipline in Indian culture; his charitable hospital in India; the India Bazaar stores, import work, the startup of a wholesale business; Ashram group, the startup of the Hindu Society of Minnesota; vegetarianism; and the importance of helping other people.


DATE OF INTERVIEW    : Jun 14, 1994


(Late) Sudhansu Misra


BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION: (Late) Sudhansu Misra was born in India where he attended high school and graduated from college. He continued his studies in Ohio and Michigan. He came to Minnesota where he and his wife operate a heath care facility. 

SUBJECTS DISCUSSED: His early desire to live abroad; education; family reaction to his travel to America; extended families; arranged marriages; departing India and traveling to Ohio; education experiences in Michigan; communicating with family in India; efforts to make him feel comfortable in Ohio; making friends with Americans; early work experiences, seeing discrimination, decision to remain in U.S.; experiences acquiring visa and security clearance; visits to India in early 1960s. Marriage, differences between American and Indian child rearing practices; instilling Indian culture; involvement in the India Club and School of India for Languages and Culture (SILC); experiences in Florida; organizing Indians in the Tampa/St. Petersburg area; India Club in Minneapolis; work with Council of Asian and Pacific Minnesotans; Hindu community; Indian dancing; social activities; separation by language groups; benefits and disadvantages of belonging to Indian associations; his current work; impact of being an immigrant on work; important family values; mixing of Eastern and Western values; changes in the local Indian community; older immigrants; and retirement plans.


DATE OF INTERVIEW   : Jun 7, 1994


Mahendra Nath


BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION: Mahendra Nath was born in India and immigrated to the U.S. in the mid 1960s. He attended college in India and Minnesota. He worked first for a U.S. corporation, and later began his own business. 

SUBJECTS DISCUSSED: Efforts to organize the Indian Club at the University of Minnesota; work experience at a U.S. corporation; India Association; India house; his first business, his other business dealings and entrepreneurial experiences; the value of education, hard work and financial planning; maintaining family ties, future and retirement plans.


DATE OF INTERVIEW     : Nov 11, 1994


Vilma K. Patel


BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION: Vimla K. Patel was born in India. She attended college in India and came to Pennsylvania to continue her studies. After graduation, she moved to Minnesota. 

SUBJECTS DISCUSSED: Her decision to come to the U.S. to study; initial troubles with English and American food; adjusting to cold weather; marriage; first encounters with African-Americans; impressions of African-Americans; instilling Indian values; efforts to preserve Indian culture; Hindu temple in Minnesota; differences in Indian and American parenting styles; the Indian community in Minnesota; Gujarati Society; the India Club; discrimination; maintaining family ties, family values, visiting India; and plans for the future.


DATE OF INTERVIEW    : Jun 16, 1994


Ranee Ramaswamy


BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION: Ranee Ramaswamy was born in India, where she attended school and college. In Minnesota, she renewed her involvement with dance and also was active in the Tamil Association. She travels to India frequently to study dance and is a founder of the Ragamala Dance Theater. She has received several McKnight fellowships for dance, has performed widely, and teaches dance in Minnesota. 

SUBJECTS DISCUSSED: Her childhood; family values and expectations; relations with family members, extended families; marriage; moving to the United States; participating in dance performances, and traveling back to India annually to study Bharatha Natyam, classical Indian dance; Minnesota Dance Alliance; winning fellowships and grants; poet Robert Bly; establishing the Ragamala Dance Theater; mixing traditional dance and innovative approaches; teaching Indian dance classes; future plans.


DATE OF INTERVIEW     : Nov 17, 1994


Kusum Saxena


BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION: Kusum Saxena was born in India where she graduated from college and did postgraduate studies. In the late 1950s, she and her husband immigrated to the U.S, living first in Massachusetts and later in Minnesota. Saxena is a physician. 

SUBJECTS DISCUSSED: Her childhood and education; her medical education; marriage; the decision to immigrate; early years in St. Paul; balancing demands of home and career; cultural differences; Hindu Society of Minnesota; Hindu Mandir (temple); American Indian community; discrimination; social activities; career and professional activities; domestic violence; recent changes in the Indian community; national pride; her work history; maintaining ties with family in India.


DATE OF INTERVIEW     : Sep 30, 1994


(Late) Dr. Abul H. Siddiqui


BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION: (Late) Abul Hasan Siddiqui was born in India. After graduating from medical school in India, he traveled to England and Scotland for research and graduate work. He has worked in several countries, and in the mid-1970s, he accepted employment in the United States. He has retired, but maintains licensure and contact with the medical community. 

SUBJECTS DISCUSSED: His medical education and research; decision to come to the United States; adjustment to life in Minnesota; marriage and family; the Muslim community in the Twin Cities; comparisons between practicing medicine in Saudi Arabia, India and the United States; personal values; multi-generational cohabitation.


DATE OF INTERVIEW     : Aug 22, 1994


Bash Singh


BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION: Bash Singh was born in a city formerly in India and now in Pakistan. She attended school and college in India. She came to the U.S. and lived first in Tennessee and then moved to Minnesota in the early 1970s. 

SUBJECTS DISCUSSED: Experiences living in Saudi Arabia; discrimination in Tennessee; the move to Minnesota and adjusting to cold weather; operating her candy store; marriage; instilling Indian values; religion, Sikh Association of Minnesota; other family members' experiences in Minnesota; membership in the Indo-American Club and the Association of American Physicians from India (AAPI); volunteer work; connections to family in India; retirement plans; the importance of family values, personal values; the American Dream.


DATE OF INTERVIEW    : Jan 12, 1995


Sister Jancy and Sister Tresa Jose


BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION: Sister Jancy and Sister Tresa Jose were born in India where both attended school and college. They immigrated to the U.S. in the early 1970s at the request of their church superiors. Both attained graduate degrees from a Minnesota university while working. Sister Jancy is the assistant principal and Sister Tresa Joe is a teacher at a Catholic school in Minnesota. 

SUBJECTS DISCUSSED: Their decisions to become nuns; travel to Minnesota; family reactions to their immigrating to America; arriving in Minneapolis; teacher education in Minnesota; involvement with Malayali groups; differences between life in the United States and life in India; learning American teaching techniques; keeping in touch with family in India; being viewed primarily as nuns rather than as Indians; sharing responsibilities around the house; learning to drive; cooking American and Indian meals; values; changes in Catholic teachings; retirement plans; and trips back to India.


DATE OF INTERVIEW     : Jan 21, 1995